Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Tete-a-tete with a Congress Functionary

My patriotism has not really been questioned much till now, but I think this post will erase any doubts anyone (including self) ever had about it. Maybe not.
However, only "patriotism" comes closest to explaining why I engaged in a lengthy (often bordering on irritating) conversation with an acquaintance who happens to be a Congress functionary on most Congress-related crap at a cousin's betrothal instead of -
a. The obvious - scouting for prospective candidates so the next such function would be mine.
b. Scouting for prospective candidates whether such functions are possible or not.
c. Scouting for prospective candidates for friend(s).
d. Scouting for prospective friends for my lady-friends and sisters.
e. Catching up with relatives.*

The said functionary actually happens to be a Golti uncle from Vizag who knows me from childhood and who is a General Secretary for the party in charge of Public Relations. Picturize a fairly well-off, smart-alec businessman-type dude in his 40's. That's him. I knew of his entry into the dark side back in 2008 itself, and we had a very brief interaction then. This discussion was not exactly very lengthy, but it's at least worth a blog post - considering it happened at my cousin's betrothal with a Raja playing Baand Baaja in the background.

Now that you have the background, let me also add (needless to say) that there's obviously a fair amount of bias against anything associated with the Congress. Still, I tried to rope in whatever bit of objectivity I could.

Why Congress
To begin with, I abruptly asked him, unable to conceal my scorn, sarcasm, glee, etc, why he joined the Congress party. He started off by saying that Congress was the oldest party around - there was obviously some amount of ridiculousness in this reply which was what made me unprepared for this kind of response. However, moving on, he recalled the "greatness" of the Congress party (with no particular instance or point) and cited that as inspiration for joining. Ya...blah.

Then I slightly got back to the function at hand and allied "responsibilities".

On Raja
After a brief interlude, we banged into each other with my dad being part of the ensemble this time. I played Narada and provoked my dad into asking him some question. (FYI, Dad's not pro-BJP by any weird stretch of imagination and often revels in screwing all political parties L, R & C. It must also be said that he reveres NaMo and has a notable anti-Congresss bias {which may or may not be thanks to me}. Quite needless to say, given the humongous amount of shit we're facing today, his hatred for Congress has reached hitherto unscaled heights) I must confess that I expected my dad to be a tad simplistic and ask something very crude (ala my "why Congress" question). Dad however asked him a quite-obvious-yet-slightly-intellectual "Why has Manmohan not removed Raja even after so much data has been unearthed?", since I'd thought he'd ask something on the lines of "Why is Cong corrupt", etc. Now began the lengthiest, irritating'est & boring'est part of the whole conversation. The uncle probably thought this was a good chance to impress the dad-son duo (Why - I have not the faintest idea) and immediately set about "demonstrating" his knowledge of the issue. He slowly led us away from the hall to the balcony where, quite typically intellectually, he brandished a cigarette (after a few minutes there, he wanted to go downstairs for a more open session when dad excused himself & returned to the hall). I will totally spare you of all that rigmarole covering the Indian constitution and allied legal parameters effectively implying (don't tell me you haven't guessed it by now) that Manmohan Singh could not, in any way, have stripped Raja of his Ministership. Since I didn't want to give him the impression that I absolutely didn't agree with him, I told him this, much to his dismay (since it was put across in a way which, I assume, wouldn't have given him an impression of me as a dumb, presumptuous, retarded, stubborn simpleton) - "I am willing to concede that maybe it wasn't criminal of MMS to have persisted with Raja, but the thing about you saying that MMS could not have removed Raja at all is ugly crap. I am sure, given another Prime Minister, it is every bit likely we would've seen the back of Raja long ago."

[Socializing break]

Escape from Recession
Uncle'gaaru had, by now, probably realized I hadn't bought any of his hard-peddled "imported from phoreyn" goods and resorted to some tried-and-tested-product. Congress & age-old product? Yes, Nehru it was. He started off with asking me about the effect of recession in the US (he knows I'm a US-return). I knew he was preparing himself to land a KO-punch - that India was not affected by the recession because of Jawaharlal Nehru's "policies". Somewhere, I cut him and said something which made him ask me what I thought of Nehru. In being blunt, I tried to be as decent as I could.
Which is when we came to a rather interesting juncture. When he told me that many years ago, he held the same opinion as me, I refused to believe him. And then he brought the name "Babri" when I almost started J-w-J. However, I could not proceed since I had to redress his misconception about his earlier self being similar to my current self.
When I brought in Sardar Patel's name as well, he pointedly asked me - "I can see that your mind is parallelly working when I'm saying something. Why dont you allow me to finish what I'm saying first?" I was definitely at least slightly impressed by his relatively correct judgement of my mind's parallel processing. When he said one more thing against the Sardar, I simply asked him - "Uncle, I appreciate Nehru chacha's contribution and will definitely not write him off as completely useless to the nation, but just asking, do you know who the 3 members (specifically the third and most under-rated, under-acknowledged, under-appreciated member) of India's famed Triumvirate were. Much to my chagrin, he asked me to tell who they were, with the air of someone who knows his facts. Ha! This you-tell-I-tell game went on for about 4 passes after which he deftly changed the topic. I, of course, did not miss the point - though there is a statistical possibility that he did know, in all likelihood, he simply didn't know.

Now then, when it was getting obvious for both of us who was really making sense, though, I sadly had to leave for an obviously more important duty*. And though I tried to engage/humour him for a bit after dinner, it wasn't to be.

Advice for Congress: This uncle, though not-at-all convincing for a slightly-informed-BJP-supporter, would definitely have appeared convincing (to some extent at least) for a neutral, not-so-informed citizen. Plus, he didn't make an ass of himself. Sincerely I tell you, he will do a better job than Manish Tewari.

And then, for the moment of the day: I went to tell him bye and thank him for a definitely engaging discussion. It was his turn to dine then, and he, with a lot of warmth, patted me on my back and said that he'd always known I'd grow up to be a really "big" man and that he had given me 100/100 when I was in my 7th standard itself to which, I, rather (genuinely) humbly, told him that I did not consider myself big enough to grade him.
Laughing heartily, he further added - "You're one of the smartest young chaps around. You must definitely meet Rahul <...induced pause for dramatic effect...> Rahul Gandhi."
I died.

*I did not sacrifice food. Food happens to be one of the standout components of any TamBrahm function (including death ceremonies).